About this object

History of use

The Makonde were a matriarchal, agricultural society. Traditionally, it is thought, the sculpture of the Makonde was restricted to ceremonial and ritual goods. Shetani spirits or creatures, now seen in contemporary Makonde sculpture, were probably unknown before the advent of commercial art production in the mid-1950's. Tales of encounters with these rarely seen spirits or creatures were part of Makonde mythology and folklore and may have served as artistic inspiration for the pieces.

Cultural context

Commercial art.

Physical description

Two animal-like convex, facing figures, stand joined at the mouth and at the base. The large-headed humanoid figure has bulging eyes, a long thick nose, a tubular mouth with a pointed lower jaw, and a conical-shaped head. The large-headed humanoid figure is joined at its toothed-mouth to a scaled, elongated, serpent-like figure that is one-legged and tailed. One curved and one straight arm of the larger figure meld into the other figure, and one leg melds into the common base. The tail ? of the serpent-like figure appears to be in the mouth of a smaller creature at the base.